The day before the match, columnist Dave Anderson wrote in The New York Times, "Unless the ice melts, or unless the United States team or another team performs a miracle, as did the American squad in 1960, the Russians are expected to easily win the Olympic gold medal for the sixth time in the last seven tournaments." Prior to the game, ABC requested that it be rescheduled from p.m. Eastern Time, so that it could be broadcast live in primetime hours. As a result, ABC decided not to broadcast the game live for the U. audience, and tape delayed it for broadcast during its primetime block of Olympics coverage instead.However, the request was declined by the IIHF, after the Soviets complained that it would cause the game to air at 4 a.m. Before the game aired, ABC's Olympics host Jim Mc Kay openly stated that the game had already occurred, but that they had promised not to spoil its results.From the start of the exhibitions, he conducted the team through skating windsprints consisting of end line to blue line and back, then end line to red line and back, then end line to far blue line and back, and finally end line all the way down and back. Brooks had them skate Herbies after the game, and after a while, the lights were turned off by custodians and the practice continued in the dark.Near the end of the exhibition season, although he had supported them throughout, Brooks threatened because of subpar play to cut Eruzione (the captain) and replace Craig as the starting goalie with Steve Janaszak.Boston University and Minnesota were perennial rivals in college hockey and the hostility carried over from some of the players on the Olympic team for the first few months.
Nine players had played under Brooks at the University of Minnesota, which included Rob Mc Clanahan, Mike Ramsey, and Phil Verchota; while four more were from Boston University: Dave Silk, Jack O'Callahan, goalie Jim Craig, and team captain Mike Eruzione.
In Olympic group play, the Americans surprised many observers with their physical, cohesive play.
In their first game against favored Sweden, Team USA earned a dramatic 2–2 draw by scoring with 27 seconds left after pulling goalie Jim Craig for an extra attacker. Then came a stunning 7–3 victory over Czechoslovakia, who were a favorite for the silver medal.
In the four Olympics following their 1960 upset by Team USA at Squaw Valley, Soviet teams had gone 27–1–1 (wins-losses-ties) and outscored their opponents 175–44.
played in a well-developed league with world-class training facilities.